Gardens and gargoyles: Dilapidated churches grow into urban farms

Wondering what the future could hold for one of the city’s most beloved church buildings? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so distant tomorrow.

WORCESTER, June 9, 2019 – Within the city of Worcester there are 12 former church buildings that are facing the wrecking ball. Three of these buildings date back to the 1880s. They are cherished, sacred spaces where generations of parishioners married, baptized children, and said their goodbyes to loved ones. But in the last few decades, congregations of every faith have thinned out. While a giant extravagant property was once a symbol of reverence and success for a parish, now it’s become maintenance headaches for cash-strapped finance committees.

Some congregations sought to let go of the buildings, but developers know it’s daunting to repurpose thick cement walls, redesign a cavernous interior, and maintain the cultural and historical legacy.

Some church buildings were sold to the highest bidder, anyway, to await uncertain futures. With uninterested new owners and a minimum of maintenance, the once-mighty cornerstones of communities now decay and molder until they’re no longer safe to keep standing.

But a local company called Altar2Table is on a preservation campaign to purchase the properties and fix them up for what once would have been considered a most unlikely use: urban farms.

Can’t get enough? Find more What if … Worcester here

Altar2Table’s first purchase was Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Mulberry Street, which was officially closed by the Diocese of Worcester in 2016. After a year of renovations, the farm commenced operations in January 2019 and yielded its first harvest in April.

Worcester Weekly: Holy Cross basketball + ‘Anything Goes’ on Friday the 13th

Road trip!

Sunday, Jan. 8 — Norton Luge Challenge, 10 a.m., Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, 499 Mountain Road, Princeton  First of two suggested jaunts away from the Woo this week. It has nothing to do with the condition of the roads, we swear! But, y’know, besides mountain skiing minutes away, Wachusett generally has itself a formidable list of events for visitors of all shapes and sizes. Take this luge deal here: U.S. Olympic lugers will lead a demonstration of basic skills and technique. Like stopping, that’s a big one.

White House photo

Local makerspace Technocopia accepts White House invite

Shortly after celebrating the grand opening of its new downtown space in the Printers Building in early August, local makerspace Technocopia received an invitation to the Obama administration’s Makerspace Organizers Meeting at the White House. The Sun sat down with Technocopia executive director Nick Bold to find out what the government wants next for the Maker Movement.

White House photo

Local makerspace Technocopia accepts White House invite

Status was conferred by email.

Nick Bold, executive director at Technocopia, received the email about four weeks ago. It was an invitation. To the White House.

It took Bold some time to be convinced the invitation was legitimate. A video of the event shows Bold was not alone in questioning the veracity of the initial outreach.

This is the beginning of a story that culminated in Bold, wearing a suit purchased for the occasion, representing Technocopia at last Wednesday’s Makerspace Organizers Meeting at the White House.

The Maker Movement — once thought to be a loose collection of counterculture engineers, designers and tinkerers — is going mainstream.

Watch: Technocopia at the White House

Worcester Sun, Aug. 31: In this issue

Which downtown startup was rubbing elbows with the Obama Administration last week? Only one way to find out. … Speaking of downtown, we have an editorial that cuts to the core. Hitch has the answers. And a couple of recent top clicks hit our Free to Read section. (There’s more, too!) It’s your Wednesday, Aug. 31, Worcester Sun.

Worcester Sun, Aug. 3: In this issue

Charlie Baker puts Massachusetts at the forefront of pay equity. MBTA deals with daunting deficit, solar power plans. Hitch on the drought and odd days in Worcester. Thoughts on ALS, UMass Medical School and the Ice Bucket Challenge. A full Inbox and two new must-read Free to Reads. This is your Wednesday, Aug. 3, Worcester Sun.

Nick Bold

Local Business Spotlight: Technocopia, making it work

With a shared vision and support from their community of friends and colleagues, three WPI grads set out to create a utopia for innovation. “We could teach others and take care of ourselves,” said founder Nicholas Bold. “We were making genuine progress bringing in more people to help, and we didn’t have to go at odds with anyone.” And then progress met permits. New Sun contributor Sean M. Haley has the fascinating tale of how Technocopia got where it is today.

Nick Bold

Local Business Spotlight: Technocopia, making it work

After much tribulation and with almost no end in sight, the builders at Technocopia finally put it all back together.

Nicholas Bold, Kevin Harrington and Alex Camelo started as three classmates from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a passion for automation, robotics and creativity in their application. They would later form Neuron Robotics in 2008, a consulting and education company designed to inspire a similar passion for robotics in others, and to assist employers in making their operations more efficient.

Nick Bold

Sun Staff / Worcester Sun

Nick Bold of Technocopia, center, meets with prospective members at a recent Open Hacks and Craft night, 7:30-10 p.m. every Thursday.

Their initial attitude toward what they define as “capital equipment,” machines designed to assist in production and reduce human labor, was that the life of the everyday person would be enhanced.

“The idea was that the less people had to work, the more time they would have for leisure activities and education,” Harrington said.

“Now you don’t have to do that work which you automated,” Bold said. “You can work on other stuff instead.”

In reality, though enterprising, their contracting experience also left them feeling disillusioned when one client, whom they left unnamed for professional reasons, laid off 30 of its workers after hiring Neuron to help automate their processes.